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July 02, 2007

Get To Work, History

Harry Reid is mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore:

The President’s decision to commute Mr. Libby’s sentence is disgraceful. Libby’s conviction was the one faint glimmer of accountability for White House efforts to manipulate intelligence and silence critics of the Iraq War. Now, even that small bit of justice has been undone. Judge Walton correctly determined that Libby deserved to be imprisoned for lying about a matter of national security. The Constitution gives President Bush the power to commute sentences, but history will judge him harshly for using that power to benefit his own Vice President’s Chief of Staff who was convicted of such a serious violation of law.

Oh, if only the United States Senate had some way of judging George Bush! If only our Founding Fathers had had the foresight to provide such a method in Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 of our Constitution!

But sadly, the Senate is completely powerless in such situations, leaving this matter entirely in the hands of history.

Posted at July 2, 2007 08:03 PM | TrackBack

I'm wondering why Mr. President waited so long.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at July 2, 2007 08:27 PM

It’s a funny thing but upon reading all the statements by our courageous senators and other congressoids I could not help but notice that they describe themselves quite accurately and with great detail. Barrack’s shedding of tears over the alleged partisanship is comical. Pelosi talks about betrayal, hmm, must be something she is familiar with. I call for Biden to just do his job while Edwards has still got mistakes and their consequences on the brain. I don’t know, I guess it is just a funny world after all.

Posted by: rob payne at July 2, 2007 09:33 PM

He was waiting for the judge to commute the sentence on the basis of all the neocon testimonials sent, saving him the effort.

No, I'm impugning the man. The President waited so long because he was contemplating a difficult ethical decision and only just decided that Justice would best be served by pardoning Libby.

Posted by: StO at July 2, 2007 09:54 PM

"history will judge him harshly ..."

And, to misquote Joe Stalin, how many divisions does history have?

Posted by: SteveB at July 2, 2007 10:38 PM

what can I do? I'm only a United States Senator!

Posted by: Harry "give em heck" Reid at July 2, 2007 10:48 PM

I'm wondering why Mr. President waited so long.

Because he's in addition to being an unprincipled zitwipe, he's also a chickenshit.

Posted by: Sven at July 2, 2007 10:58 PM

Blame it on the House.

Posted by: Zotz at July 3, 2007 01:24 AM

clearly, they want the widely reviled Commander "Guy" McBunnyPants in office till the bitter end, the better to enhance their electoral prospects.

any innocent Afghanis/Iraqis/Palestinians/Iranians/Pakistanis murdered by Shrubco in the meantime are strictly collateral damage, and in the immortal words of M. Albright, worth it.

Posted by: ran at July 3, 2007 03:17 AM

Joe Biden simply can't help thinking he knows better than all the rest of us, can he. Perhaps it's beneath his paygrade to call the White House himself.

Posted by: Aunt Deb at July 3, 2007 08:10 AM

Yeah, yeah, but this is chicken shit stuff. The chicken salad is on the financial pages:
Government of the rich, by the rich, for the rich. Change? In your dreams.
How many divisions do the people have?
A: None.
"Who wants to be a Millionaire?" All hands go up. Anything else? Saw "Sicko," and the audience clapped. That's nice.
Anger? Rage? Resistance? Fuggedaboutit.
Carry on. And so we shall.

Posted by: donescobar at July 3, 2007 09:01 AM

I called Nancy yesterday @1-202-225-0100 and ina few minutes I'll call AGAIN.(we have much to discuss---IMPEACHMENT)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at July 3, 2007 12:53 PM

This is the kind of move a President makes the month before he leaves office, but Bush is such a lame duck, why bother? I wonder if the death of the immigration bill and the latest crap about Cheney actually benefitted Libby; Bush et al have probably just about given up on being able to influence anything. Might as well just protect your friends, enjoy the new conservative Court you put in place, and see -- out of pure curiousity -- if there is any way the approval ratings can go any lower while you try to figure out how to continue the Iraq surge past a September deadline that is more political than actual.

Posted by: Whistler Blue at July 3, 2007 01:35 PM

Can we blame the Founding Fathers for this too? Seriously. The requirement of a two-thirds majority for impeachment (or conviction in the Senate, anyway) may have made sense at the time, but with the rise of entrenched political parties, it guarantees that no one can ever be removed from office unless half his own party turns against him. Which means that Bush can't be removed from office and it's the Founding Fathers' fault, literally.

I'd say that we need to create a better impeachment process, except that the Republicans would just use it against Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: M.A. at July 3, 2007 02:12 PM

M.A.: I am forced to agree with the FOUNDERS. There should be NO easy way to remove from office, otherwise Billy would have been removed and that would have been WRONG. WE have a preponderence of evidence, like no-one in history, if we cannot CONSTITUTIONALLY solve OUR PROBLEM then we may need to concider more third parties or outlawing the party system entirely. Either way, our drifting away from OUR CONSTITUTION IS THE PROBLEM.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at July 3, 2007 04:43 PM

I honestly think the concept of a parliamentary system is looking better and better.

Posted by: Brian at July 3, 2007 07:05 PM

Because governments can fall on the vote of the legislature in parliamentary systems, this tends to make party discipline even stronger. And whether an individual leader gets bumped is more to do with the power plays going on within the party with the majority in the House. Unless a majority of the party caucus want to remove the leader, the only way principled members of that party could effect such a change because of corrupt leadership would be to vote with opposing parties to bring down the government as a whole - not a very palatable option for a politician. If Bush had been a Prime Minister he would probably have been removed from office long ago, simply because of his unpopularity - but on the other hand it's hard to see such a numbskull rising to that position in a parliamentary system in the first place.

I don't think the US system is the apex of democracy systems some Americans like to paint it - but it's worth bearing in mind that in, at least British style, parliamentary systems the people have no say in who forms the executive government at all.

Posted by: RobW at July 3, 2007 09:52 PM

Every form of government is a compromise between stability and responsiveness to the public. Problem is, our founding slave-rapists erred heavily on the side of stability in designing our system, likely because democracy was such a new and untested idea at the time.

Americans like to point to Italy, which has had god-knows-how-many governments since the end of WWII as an example of the "instability" of parliamentary systems, but, as RobW points out, under a parliamentary system a leader as unpopular as Bush would have been disposed of by now.

And the ease with which governments fall under a parliamentary system tends to make those governments much more responsive to the needs of the public, which at least partially explains why folks in Europe have six weeks of paid vacation.

But - alas, under our system, which bizarrely asserts that the people can only change their President on the first Tuesday in November in a year divisible by the number four, we're stuck with a President who is despised by a large and growing majority of the population, thus ensuring complete governmental paralysis between now and Jan. 2009. Thanks a lot, Founding Fathers!

Posted by: SteveB at July 3, 2007 10:32 PM

True enough, Steve, but I wouldn't want to exaggerate the responsiveness of parliamentary systems to the people's will - the reason Bush would have lost the leadership more quickly under such systems would simply be because the rest of the party would regard him as an electoral liability. That's not going to necessarily lead to a spill if the next election's years away and/or the party prefers to tough it out, particularly true if you've got a nice stable two party system where parties can usually expect to govern in their own right. The main reason Blair was able to hang on as his popularity declined was simply because British parliamentary terms are so long (five years at a maximum), and the party could rely on the public thinking any alternative would be worse.

Italy's "instability" is more about having a large number of parties. Partly that's history, partly it's the voting system. And they have a president, apparently as difficult to remove as the American one.

Posted by: RobW at July 3, 2007 11:26 PM